Android 15 Beta 1 and the curious case of ‘Pixel Weather’

Android 15 Beta 1 and the curious case of ‘Pixel Weather’

To coincide with the Android 12 push and Material You, Google introduced a pair of weather widgets for Pixel in 2021. With the Android 15 Beta, the exclusive Pixel nature of these weather widgets has been enshrined.

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In Android 15 Beta 1, going to the widget picker reveals that the generic “Weather” section has been renamed to “Pixel Weather.” The two homescreen objects are unchanged and continue to be powered by the Google app, while the icon has been updated to the one used by the Weather app/service introduced with Android 14 QPR1 in December that currently only powers Clock app features.

Specifically, this is the sun on a bright blue, sky-evoking background, which is different from a dedicated “Weather” shortcut (sun covered by clouds on a white background) that saw a limited rollout late last year. That icon is also different from the shortcut that you can place on your homescreen from inside the Weather app.

The Play Store description for that background service is as follows: “Your integrated and personalized weather app for Pixel.” The Clock integration for weather after an alarm triggers and temperatures for your saved cities in no way constitutes a “weather app.” 

The “Pixel Weather” rename serves no practical purpose unless it’s a hint of things to come.

I’ve long wanted the Pixel team to make a first-party weather experience rather than ceding the experience to Google Search. Last year’s redesign, which debuted on Pixel before expanding to all Android devices, was quite good, but it’s not perfect. For example, the weather notifications that the Google app sends open a new Search when tapped instead of the Weather experience.

A more traditional Android app that’s just for Pixel devices could see faster, more focused updates. The precedent here is Samsung and Nothing going their own way. Additional widget styles and radar would be nice to have. Google has the data/technique to rival Apple’s Dark Sky and that should really be leveraged by the Pixel team.

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